US President Donald Trump has tweeted in support of striking a “large scale trade deal” with the UK post-Brexit.
“My Administration looks forward to negotiating a large scale Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. The potential is unlimited!,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.
Trump’s intervention comes during a crucial week for Brexit that has seen May’s withdrawal deal rejected for a second time by UK MPs, no deal Brexit ruled out in a vote in parliament, and will likely see MPs call for an extension to the Brexit negotiation period.
Trump was urged to support Britain leaving the EU without a deal when he met with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage earlier this month, according to the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
The US and the UK struck a deal in February to replicate current EU-made trade deals post-Brexit. However, both sides want to strike a new deal on trade post-Brexit independent of EU rules. Trump said the February deal “strengthened” the relationship between the two countries and said that trade would be increased “very, very substantially” over time.
The US is the UK’s biggest trading partner outside of the EU, with over £66bn ($87.4bn) worth of trade between the countries, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics.
While both sides are keen for a deal, there has been some controversy in the UK over what the terms of the deal may involve. US officials, including commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, have made it clear they want Britain to adopt US standards and abandon EU rules under any new deal.
This has led to fears in some quarters that the UK will be lowering standards. The issue of chlorine washed chickens — which are legal in the US, but not in the EU — has become a political talking point symbolising the row.
Any deal between the two side may also take years to finalise. The EU-Canada free trade deal (CETA) took seven years to put together and is seen as one of the most successful recent trade deals.
Trump’s tweet came hours after MPs voted to rule out leaving the EU without a deal. The result paves the way for politicians to approve an extension to the Brexit timeline in a vote in parliament later Thursday.
Trump has previously said that UK prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal “sounds like a great deal for the EU” and could harm UK-US trading relations.